#48 Check for listening to see if your explanation is clear and concise
Use this tip when planning your explanations
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💡 A tip to try in class this week 💡
Here are two ways of explaining what a quadratic equation is:
Okay… so… um, when we have an equation with an x-squared… or, in fact, any letter squared… it doesn't need to be x, it could p or q, or anything… we call these letters variables… so when they are squared… so the exponent needs to be 2… um, so equations that have a squared term in them, they are called quadratic equations.
This is an example of a quadratic equation. It is a quadratic equation because the highest exponent of the variable is 2.
There is little doubt that Explanation 2 is better, but why? Because it a shorter, more concise? Maybe, but short does not necessarily mean good when it comes to explanations, just as long does not necessarily mean good. Is it because Explanation 2 is clearer than Explanation 1? Again, possibly, but clarity is a subjective measure.
I think a better way to judge the quality of an explanation is how easy is it to check students are listening. I discussed the importance of checking for listening during explanations here.
Imagine you wanted to check students are listening to Explanation 1. How would you do it? When would you Cold Call or instigate a Call and Respond? What would students say back? Indeed, would you really want them to repeat any of this back?
But with Explanation 2, it is straightforward:
This is an example of a quadratic equation.
What type of question is it… Ben?
What type of equation is it… Sophie?
It is a quadratic equation because the highest exponent of the variable is 2.
Why is it a quadratic equation… Tom?
Everyone, why is it a quadratic equation?… 3, 2, 1…
So, not only are checks for listening important to give you valuable feedback and help sustain students’ attention, they can also be used when planning explanations to judge their quality.
What do you think of this idea?
What would you need to change to make this tip work for you?
When could you try it for the first time?
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